ZapThink’s Retrospective and Predictions for 2011

What better way to ring in the New Year than ZapThink’s ninth annual Retrospective and Predictions ZapFlash? Ever since our first annual prediction ZapFlash on January 6, 2003, we have been reviewing our predictions for the previous year and then making new ones for the year to come. We also have a tradition here at ZapThink that no one gets to write the retrospective/predictions two years running, so no one gets to critique their own predictions. As a result, we never pull any punches. If our predictions were off, then we’re the first to admit it! In this spirit of irreverent camaraderie, therefore, let us review our predictions from one year ago.

Scorecard: Our 2009 Predictions for 2010

First, we predicted that open source SOA infrastructure will dominate. We called for  robust open source registry/repository, management, and governance offerings to roll out in 2010 in particular. ZapThink missed the boat on this one. Our thinking was that as the big vendors consolidated the market, enterprise customers would look for alternatives, and open source would be an increasingly appealing choice.

Instead, IBM and Oracle have largely sewn up the SOA infrastructure market. Forces of innovation and change have moved elsewhere. And in spite of the vendor-independent SOA drum ZapThink has beaten for a decade now, “SOA” for many organizations means “implementing a lot of software from IBM or Oracle that has SOA on the label.” Does that mean that vendor-independent approaches to achieving architecture-driven business agility are dead? Absolutely not. But we’re no longer calling it SOA.

Our second prediction: the Rich Internet Application (RIA) Market wars are over. Nailed this one. As we said last year, put a fork in it, it’s done.

Third, we predicted that we Cloud privacy and security issues would be put to rest. Our timing was off on this one. If anything, Cloud privacy and security issues are becoming increasingly central to many organizations’ move to the Cloud. We’ll eventually resolve these issues, but we didn’t do it in 2010. It’s unlikely they will be fully resolved in 2011 either.

Our Predictions for 2011

If you’ve been following ZapThink this past year, you know that we’ve laid out our ZapThink 2020 vision for the future of enterprise IT. The question for this ZapFlash, therefore, are which of our ten-year predictions do we expect to take place in 2011? Here are the top three.

  • One spectacular Cloud flameout – the entire Cloud Computing marketplace is reaching a fever pitch. The chum is in the water, and the vendors are hungry. Enterprise buyers are starting to invest in Cloud solutions. Investors are placing bets on Cloud hosting providers as well as infrastructure players. In the long term, Cloud has legs, no doubt. But in the short term? There will be a shakeout. Perhaps a large Cloud hosting provider will go belly up. Or maybe a WikiLeaks-style denial of service attack will take out a good chunk of the Cloud. Another possibility is a major Cloud security breach. One way or the other, Cloud will get a spanking this year.
  • No more IP addresses – the IPv4 address space is running out, and we predict the last available IP addresses will be used up in 2011. The conventional wisdom is that this IP exhaustion will spur the adoption of IPv6. We agree—but that won’t happen in 2011 to any great extent. We predict, however, that the companies who lucked out in the early days and ended up with a Class A IP address range (each of which contains about 16 million addresses) will find a suddenly booming secondary market for those addresses. Standing to benefit: Ford Motor Company, Merck, Eli Lilly, DuPont, Halliburton, and the US Postal Service, among others. Not only is this issue a new battle for 2011, it’s an entirely new battleground.
  • EA is Dead, Long Live EA – In early 2009 the story was that SOA was dead, and now it’s Enterprise Architecture’s turn. Perhaps the collapse of the Zachman Framework, or the increasing realization that EA certifications don’t correlate with EA competency, or the ubiquitous misperception that EA is about technology—all these trends are driving a nail in the coffin of Enterprise Architecture as it’s done today. But just as the “SOA is dead” story was actually one of refocusing on what was really important about SOA, the “EA is dead” story will lead to a rebirth of true Enterprise Architecture—best practices for architecting enterprises as complex systems in order to enable continuous business transformation. If your Enterprise Architects don’t actually spend their time architecting your enterprise, then what are they really doing?

The ZapThink Take

The common thread tying together our three predictions is the popping of bubbles of misconception. We love to fool ourselves, until such time as our illusions no longer hold water, and they burst. We may get wet, but we survive, and we move forward with a better understanding of the realities of the broader business environment.

If you believe your Cloud provider is invulnerable, you’re fooling yourself. If you believe the IPv4 exhaustion problem won’t affect you, yes, fooling yourself again. And if you believe that the CEO looks to the EA team for guidance because all your ontologies and standards and diagrams are exactly what the executive management team needs to be successful in 2011, you’re fooling yourself once more. 2011 is the year we get real, dispel the illusions that have impeded our progress, and tackle the real problems facing our organizations.